Canyon Pits Water Against Trash By
Alison St John,
February 1, 2013
new land fill proposed for Gregory Canyon in North County would
be a replacement for the San Marcos landfill that closed back
in 1997. Very few new landfills are being sited in California
because they are so difficult to get permitted. Gregory
Canyon is east of Interstate 15 on Highway 76, next to the San
Luis Rey River.
200 people showed up to the Army Corps of Engineers' hearing
to argue for and against the project that has been in the
works for more than two decades.
pointed out that the public has voted for this landfill twice:
in 1994 and 2004. Mike McSweeney of the Building Industry
Association said the project is essential for new growth.
The project developers, Gregory Canyon Ltd said it will have
the most stateof-the-art landfill liner in the world
-- more than 7 feet thick.
Supervisor Bill Horn said he voted against the project, which
was in his district in 2004, but after he saw the liner he
changed his mind and supported it.
Ron Roberts also supports the project, saying it will bring
jobs and much needed tax revenue into the region.
this is one place where the two Roberts on the
county board disagree. Newly elected County Supervisor Dave
Roberts said people promised nuclear power plants would never
leak, but San Onofre did: exactly a year ago. He, along with
many opponents of the landfill, took the long view, and said
the liner might last a lifetime, but that isnt enough.
The landfill will be there forever.
Canyon is next to Gregory Mountain, which is sacred to the
Pala Band. Several tribal representatives spoke against the
project, including Robert Smith, chairman of the Pala Band,
Mel Vernon of the San Luis Rey Band and Anthony Pico of Viejas.
They compared filling Gregory Canyon with trash to piling
it up against the walls of a church.
number of people who testified said big changes have occurred
since the early votes in 1994 and 2004. Firstly, the ways
we way of disposing of trash is changing. Cal Recycle, the
states waste disposal department, recorded 30 percent
less trash thrown away in 2011 than in 2005. The need for
new landfills is decreasing.
water is becoming increasingly precious. The city that may
have the most to lose is Oceanside, which sits downstream
on the San Luis Rey River. The city Water Department Director,
Cari Dale said the city has already spent $23 million to develop
recycled ground water that now supplies 20 percent of the
citys water supply. Dale said Oceanside has plans to
spend $180 million over the next 30 years to increase that
to half of all the citys drinking water. If the San
Luis Rey River become polluted, that would devastate the citys
Army Corps will balance the declining need for a new landfill
with an increasing need to protect our water supplies, before
deciding whether to issue the federal permit later this year.